Dutton argues against what he views as the dominant intellectual and academic trend of the last 40 years: art as a function of culture, and understood as such. Rather than seeing art tied into a web of other political and philosophical ideas about culture (Marxism and social constructionism he mentions…he is a libertarian)
Dutton would like:
…to perhaps do what Noam Chomsky did for the study of language (there is a universal appartatus common to us all which is inexplicable through analysis alone…least of all through a post-modern and non-scientific analysis. This approach has deepened and attached linguistics to something akin to Immanuel Kant’s metaphysics and philosophical transcendental idealism).
Dutton appears to rely on Kant, but also heavily on Darwin’s theory of evolution.
It’s quite a task to try and systematize, understand and explain the arts at all, and something only a philosopher might try.
Without having read it, I can say very little more than I’ve said, though I wonder a little at his motivations…
I’ve read the book and commented here: Review of Denis Dutton’s ‘The Art Instinct’
Related On This Site: How might Kantian metaphysics mesh with political philosophy?: More On Daniel Deudney’s Bounding Power…Daniel Deudney on Bloggingheads. Jesse Prinz (with Nietzsche thrown in) wants to push the cognitive sciences toward Humean empiricism: A Brief Review of Jesse Prinz’s ‘The Emotional Construction Of Morals’